What is Martial Law and How Will it Affect Me?

Simply put by Miriam Webster:

martial law (noun): the law administered by military forces that are invoked by a government in an emergency when the civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety

But what does it really mean to a prepper, a law-abiding citizen and one who doesn’t like the government infringing on their rights?

Has Martial Law Ever Been Declared in The United States?

With things seemingly getting more and more radical out there, the thought of martial law has crossed many of prepper and survivalists’ minds lately.

It may seem like a far-fetched idea and to many, martial law in the U.S.A. will never happen. And that is partly due to the fact that martial law has never officially been declared in the U.S.A.

Emergency Essentials

Well, not in its entirety.

Although Congress has never declared martial law, at the beginning of the Civil War, in July 1861, Congress ratified most of the martial law measures declared by President Abraham Lincoln.

This ratification gave the Union military forces the authority to arrest persons and conduct trials.

What Rights Might I Lose During a Martial Law Declaration?

The powers that be (TPTB) could:

  • Implement a curfew

    What Rights Might I Lose During a Martial Law
    What Rights Might I Lose During a Martial Law
  • Confiscation your firearms
  • Restrict your freedom of speech
  • Detained or imprison you at their discretion
  • Forcibly remove you from your property
  • Confiscation any of your supplies they deem useful to the masses

The fact is, it would take a major event to cause all of these things to see the light at one time. But you can bet they have happened to some degree somewhere at some time.

You don’t have to look too far in the past to witness confiscation of firearms.

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans police department was sent door to door to look for those who rode out the storm in their homes.

They claimed they were there to enforce the forced evacuation ordered by the government.

While going door to door, they were also confiscating firearms.  As you could probably guess, this created outrage among the law-abiding gun owners and resulted in state and federal laws that prevented such confiscations from occurring in the future.

Here is a disturbing video of law enforcement confiscating a firearm from an elderly woman. Unbelievable.

What Rights do I Retain Under Martial Law?

  • The right to life;
  • The right not to be tortured, nor subjected to cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • The right not to be subjected to forced labor;
  • The right not to be imprisoned for non-payment of debt;
  • The right not to be punished for an act which was not yet a crime at the time of its commission;
  • The right to be recognized and treated as a person; and
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Is Martial Law Just a Way for The Government to Take Control?

No. In my opinion, I still have faith in the local police and the military. You can bet, when the SHTF, most people will be completely unprepared and we as preppers will hope that there is some force to keep them under control.

The issue with this is whether or not the Government can effectively retain control of society whether martial laws has been declared or not.

What Will Martial Law Be Like?

I have never lived through anything like martial law, nor have I been anywhere in the World where martial law was implemented.

There will be those that are only there to take what you have so trust no one and never give any hints to your preps.

What Will Martial Law Be Like?
What Will Martial Law Be Like?

Your right for a fair trial may be out the window. Stay out of trouble and don’t confront anyone if you don’t have to. Avoid contact with others that you don’t know as much as possible.

Keep your situational awareness on level ten. If you are traveling, you can be stopped and searched at any time. You can bet there will be armed checkpoints scattered everywhere on your route.

Cash, food and other supplies will be almost nonexistent. The government will try to supply the masses with food and water, but you will NOT want to be anywhere near that chaos.

Medical supplies and medical attention will not be available. Stock up on necessary medical supplies the best you can. Ask your doctor to prescribe a 90 day supply of meds if possible.

Communication will be limited or nonexistent. Cell service and other forms of communication will be heavily monitored and limited even more than they are now. Short Wave Radio will get you in BIG trouble if you don’t know what you are doing. Use your HAM radios with extreme caution and don’t transmit for long periods of time or in the same place often.

Martial law could be declared without notice so it is imperative you be prepared ahead of time.

How to Prepare for Martial Law

First off, become a prepper. START PREPPING NOW.

Stock up on food, water, medication, security and other supplies.

How to Prepare for Martial Law
How to Prepare for Martial Law

Reinforce your main shelter (home or BOL) the best you can. If it gets really bad, be prepared to get out of dodge. Check out my article on hardening you home for a SHTF situation.

Trust no one: trust will be a big factor during martial law. It would be in your best interest to trust no one because it may become impossible to tell the difference between real law enforcement and groups posing as law enforcing.

Have a close-knit group of like-minded folks that are willing to have your back. Surviving this type of event alone is highly unlikely.

Never accept law enforcement invite to a shelter. You only need to look at the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina to realize, you DO NOT want to be there. Even though bugging out is the last resort for many, you would be better off in the woods than in a Superdome situation.

Never advertise your preps, be what we call a gray man. Keep a low profile and don’t let yourself or your supplies stick out in a crowd. Never freely give out information unless you trust the other person like a brother.

Being a gray man brings up another issue. If you are always in your home never venturing out, people will suspect you have either kicked the bucket or you have a supply of food and water to get you by. It would be wise not to completely shut yourself off from society.

How Likely is Martial Law and Gun Confiscation?

Martial law, although an option for the powers that be, is unlikely except for small areas affected by a disaster. I base this statement on the past and how “martial law type actions” have been implemented in disasters in the U.S.A.

Gun confiscation seems like something the left is always after but in reality, there are approximately 112 guns for every 100 Americans. Of those Americans, 30% of 320 million people in the U.S.A. own guns.

So, that is about 90 million-gun owners that would cover about 3.8 million square miles making confiscation almost impossible under the current conditions.

Again, before you jump on me and say gun confiscation can happen, I agree. It won’t happen in the near future but I know it is every bit possible and it will probably be a slow process of chipping away at our rights.

Martial law is something you need to be aware of but don’t dwell on it. Get out and enjoy life and keep on prepping. Enjoy the process of prepping and prep smart.


I and many other preppers have tried to plan for martial law for some time. You can be certain, I am glad we haven’t dropped to that level yet. Martial law will bring on tough times and be like something that the United States has never seen before.

How the masses manage under these conditions will be interesting, to say the least. Always keep your ears open for information and use that information wisely.

As of this writing, President Trump has declared a state of emergency to secure funds for the border wall with Mexico. It will be interesting to see how this rides out in court and how this will be used in the future if or when we get a Democrat President.

Nancy Pelosi has already threatened to use the declaration of an emergency to confiscate guns.